Big Plays Key Buckeye Romp

When Ohio State needed to pull away from Michigan, it went bombs away Saturday. Three Buckeye scoring plays topped 45 yards, and some other long gains helped key the squad's blowout win over Michigan. BuckeyeSports.com talked to the principals in the plays to find out their reaction to Ohio State's big-play offense.

Chris Wells best summed up 10th-ranked Ohio State's 42-7 win over Michigan on Saturday.

"It's going to take big plays to win this football game," he said. "Fortunately today we went out there and did that."

Did they ever. Each of the Buckeyes first three touchdowns was 49 yards or longer, and the second was one play after the team's longest punt return of the season.

Michigan, meanwhile, had just three plays of longer than 20 yards. As the Wolverines' offense struggled to kick into gear, the Buckeyes were busy bludgeoning the other half of the Maize and Blue squad with haymaker after haymaker.

The Wolverines did make the first big play of the game, however, as Stevie Brown intercepted a pass by Terrelle Pryor on Ohio State's first drive and returned it to the 13. Ohio State's defense stiffened, though, and K.C. Lopata missed a 35-yard field goal that kept the game scoreless.

The first true stunner came late in the first quarter after the squad spent the rest of that time feeling each other out. The Buckeyes took over at their own 41-yard line with 3:57 to go in the stanza, and Wells took a handoff on the first play, zoomed through a hole and was gone for his third career touchdown rush of 50 yards or more against the Wolverines.

"Our offensive line did a great job blocking," Wells said of the play, on which he tweaked his already gimpy hamstring that ended his day midway through the third quarter. "It took us a while to get going, but eventually we got it going and moving and moved guys out of the way. They made the hole and I ran through it."

Left guard Jim Cordle pulled through the hole to hit the linebacker, and Michigan safety Brandon Harrison overran the play to allow Wells all the running room.

Ohio State's next drive allowed it the opportunity for another crushing blow when Pryor atoned for his earlier interception by finding Brian Hartline behind Brown for a perfectly thrown 53-yard touchdown pass that made the score 14-0.

The Buckeyes went dormant for the rest of the first half and nursed a 14-7 lead into halftime, but they went back to the well in the second half, breaking the Wolverines' back with a swift two-play, 91-yard drive that came after Michigan was forced to end its first drive of the second half with a punt despite breaking into Ohio State territory.

"I thought the turning point was when they punted us down to the 9 and then two plays later we scored," head coach Jim Tressel said. "That was huge. A big run by Beanie and a big run by Boom Herron and that really made a difference."

Wells started the drive with a 42-yard run from the Ohio State 9 to Michigan's 49-yard line on what could be the second-to-last carry he'll ever have in Ohio Stadium. Ohio State pulled both guards in Cordle and Steve Rehring, and Wells followed them over the left side and to daylight.

"We went back to old-school Ohio State football – pulling the guard, running right at you – and we popped some good ones out there," Rehring said.

Wells came off for freshman Boom Herron, who promptly took a handoff from Pryor, went through a hole on the left side, ran by Harrison and scored a 49-yard touchdown run that seemed to spark the Buckeyes to life.

"I told him this is where you make your name at," Wells said of Herron, who ran eight times for 80 yards. "He made his name today."

Rehring was pleased to see the game change on some good old-fashioned power football.

"When you run the ball well, it's always great," he said. "You're going to play well when you run the ball well. It's not just us up front that did a decent job. The backs did a great job of finding the holes, and those wide receivers, you have to give them credit, too, because long runs don't happen without wide receivers blocking downfield."

Michigan was forced to punt on its next two drives after the 91-yard march, and that proved disastrous on the second boot by Zoltan Mesko. Ray Small, back from a two-game suspension, received Mesko's punt at his own 12 and noticed most of the Michigan players had overrun the play expecting a fair catch. Small cut upfield, raced down the left sideline and spun out of one tackle before he was finally caught at the Ohio State 8-yard line.

Pryor found Brian Robiskie in the end zone one play later and the rout was on.

Ohio State, which recovered a first-quarter punt fumbled by Michigan, also forced a fumble on a kickoff later that led to another touchdown.

"You mentioned the special teams – the kickoff team knocked one loose, the punt team dropped a couple punts down in there," Tressel said. "We did pretty well."

The defense's big plays were mostly in stopping Michigan, which was forced into 12 punts. Michigan had nine drives that did not pick up a first down and ended in a punt.

"Defensively, we'd like to say that if you get three or four three and outs, that's like a turnover, so if you're talking like nine or 10, that's like getting three turnovers," Tressel said.


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